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Colorado Communities Take Historic Action on Gun Safety

Washington DC—After a tragic mass shooting in Boulder last year, Colorado passed legislation giving power back to local authorities to regulate gun safety measures in their own communities. At the request of local elected officials in Colorado, Giffords Law Center helped draft a package of gun violence prevention ordinances to fill in gaps in state law and improve public safety. The Boulder Consortium of Cities organized a Day of Action for communities to hold public hearings and vote on many of these ordinances. 

Yesterday, on the Day of Action, the following cities adopted several of the ordinances: Boulder, Superior, Lafayette, and Louisville. A day earlier, Greenwood Village banned gun dealers from operating out of residences and, on May 16, Denver prohibited guns in public parks and buildings. Other communities in Boulder County and elsewhere are also in the process of taking action on gun violence prevention based on the ordinances drafted by Giffords Law Center and Everytown. 

“In 2021, Colorado took the historic step to restore freedom to local communities to protect themselves from gun violence. Giffords has been proud to work with communities across Boulder County and elsewhere to make these life-saving policies a reality. We applaud the courageous local leaders in Boulder, Superior, Louisville, Lafayette, Greenwood Village, and Denver who voted to enact popular, commonsense gun violence prevention policies. Local governments know the needs and wishes of their residents better than state lawmakers and this is hopefully the beginning of many local efforts to save lives and reduce gun violence,” said Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy at Giffords Law Center. 

Background on Colorado Local Ordinances

Starting several decades ago, the gun lobby began pressuring states to take power away from local governments to pass gun safety laws. Today, 42 states generally restrict the freedom of local communities to enact gun violence prevention laws. In 2021, Colorado became the first state with a firearm preemption law to repeal it and broadly give the authority back to local governments. 

  • In Colorado, most cities are granted power in the state constitution to make whatever laws that relate to local or municipal matters. Violence is a local matter, yet in Colorado and states around the country, over the past few decades, gun extremists have been convincing state legislators to take this power away from local governments when it comes to gun violence prevention. 
  • This is called preemption—when a higher branch of government takes regulatory power away from a lower branch. This is the same tactic used by the tobacco lobby and organizations that oppose minimum wage and anti-discrimination laws to prevent localities from passing health and safety laws that they believe hurt their business interests. 
  • Just one month after a tragic mass shooting that killed 10 people in Boulder, legislators passed a law to reform the state preemption law to allow localities to regulate firearms.
  • In June 2021, Colorado became the sixth state to allow such gun safety regulation, and the first to broadly restore the freedom to prevent gun violence to local communities. 


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